Justice system disappoints dead teen’s mother

POSTED: 02/1/12 12:37 PM

St. Maarten – The mother of drowning victim, Felecia Williams, has expressed disappointment with the way the justice system handled her daughter’s case. Deleta Bailey-Johnson says that although she does not possess a full understanding of the Dutch law, she cannot fathom why the authorities allowed Guyanese-born American Aubrey Thom to leave the island after charges were brought against him for manslaughter. In absenture, Thom was sentenced to 9 months for culpable homicide, instead of manslaughter, last week for having allowed the 16-year-old Williams to go on his jet ski along with another friend without proper safety equipment. Sometime during the course of the jet ski ride in the Great Bay channel, Thom lost control resulting in all three riders being thrown into the sea. Williams who could not swim struggled for a while before going under.
“I know that he would never come back, I don’t understand the law here. A man do a thing like that and you allow him to leave the island,” a visibly upset Bailey-Johnson said on Monday.
Judge Monique Keppels granted the deceased girl’s mother a claim for damages amounting to $7,400
“I doubt I will ever get any money, I don’t know how to go about it because the gentleman is not here. Besides that money could never bring back the life of my daughter but that is what I spent on funeral expenses.”
March 27 will make it one year since the St. Maarten Academy student’s life was cut short. Her mother said that not a day goes by without her being reminded of the circumstances leading up to the loss of her eldest.
“I am trying to cope but I will never get used to it. Sometimes I cry uncontrollably especially since the day on which she died was the day I was burying my foster mother in Jamaica.”
As we reported in our January 19 edition, Thom did not make his court date on January 18 because of his inability to obtain a visa from his native country. The defendant was in court in June of last year; at the time the case was postponed because his attorney Brenda Brooks had not received the relevant files to prepare her defense and because the defendant was in the United States. Brooks said she had urged her client to make haste with obtaining a visa, but he told her that he did not have it yet. Thom needed the visa, even though his summons states that he has the right to return to the island to attend his trial. Because she did not have a mandate, Brooks desisted, and Judge Keppels granted the prosecution’s request to try the defendant in absentia.
Bailey-Johnson said that she does not believe that all blame should be laid squarely at the door of Thom who on vacation here at the time because it was a choice that her daughter made.
“I would say to children that sometimes your parents speak to you and you do not listen but you never know what they may be saving you from.”
She made a special appeal to Thom.
“I am asking him if you could give me a call, come to see me or send another family member to see me.”

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